Photos: Keel-laying ceremony of the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier

I took these photos in the building dry-dock at the Cochin Shipyard yesterday. The metal hunks at the top at blocks that will progressively be lowered into the drydock to outfit the hull. The drydocks are to be flooded (the "launch") 22 months from now, if everything goes well.

Incidentally, the shipyard expects the Navy to place an order for a second indigenous aircraft carrier by the end of the year, and work will begin by early next year, though only if there are no major design changes from the first. Significantly, the current vessel is the largest that can be built by CSL in its current building dry-dock. If it wants to embark on larger carriers, as envisaged by the Navy, it will need to expand its dry-dock, or build an entirely new one. The recession has put paid to its plans to fund this expansion through an investment IPO, though the Defence Ministry has promised to support the shipyard's shelved plans to build a new drydock.

Coming up: exclusive photos of old faithful INS Viraat undergoing a mini-refit in the repair drydock at CSL.

All Photos by Shiv Aroor / LiveFist

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